Talking abouts STIs

You wash your hands regularly, but you still caught that cold. You love them, but you still got infected.

Getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is actually pretty common. Most people contract Human Papillomavirus at some point in their lives. One in two Americans gets an STI by the time they’re 25, so it was bound to happen some time. I know, you feel fine, everything looks healthy and feels right, but a lot of STIs don’t even show symptoms (especially in women). Testing isn’t scary, and it’s very routine, so get a regular check up. And if you have an STI, don’t freak out — get information on the STI and look it over. The more you know about it, the less scary it is.

Make sure to tell your partner about your STI before engaging in sex. If your previous partner didn’t tell you they had an STI, and they gave it to you, remember how terrible that felt. Do you want the person you’re with to have that same experience? Or do you think they deserve to know what they’re getting into? Having a conversation doesn’t have to be difficult. Having some paperwork on hand that discusses the STI is useful, in case there’s a detail you don’t remember. It’s nice to have a fact sheet just to help you both better understand your limits and know more about what you’re dealing with and what you can do to help and support each other. Know that most STIs are curable, and the rest are easily managed. An STI is not something to be ashamed of. The human body is susceptible to infection; it happens, and you just have to take care of yourself and move on.

Knowledge is power, so the more you know about what your body is dealing with, the less scary it is. The more you know, the more you can tell your partner. Having an STI doesn’t mean you’re a slut or a whore or any other demeaning word. It just means that your body was caught off guard. Just like when you had that cold a couple weeks ago. It’s contagious, but it’s not the end of the world. Make sure to discuss your past dating experiences and sexual history. Talking about the good and bad points will give you each a better idea of what you’re looking for.

Never shame someone for their STI. If your partner has one, listen to them, learn about what they’re going through, and support them. When it comes to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), a condom can provide just about all the protection you need. The virus must be present in sufficient quality, so sweat, tears, saliva, urine and vomit do not typically contain a large enough amount for infection to occur.

 

Conversation Starters:

“Have you been tested since your last partner or in the last six months?”

“Why take a chance when we can know for sure? STI testing only takes about 20 minutes.”

“Did you know getting checked is as easy as peeing in a cup?”

“Let me tell you about a mistake I made.”

 

Taking Action:

Go in to get tested together; you can provide emotional support for each other

Buy condoms together. Perhaps you each have particular kinds you like, or you want to try something new. Find a style you can both agree on.

Purchase your STI in plushie form at giantmicrobes.com; a cute plush doesn’t seem very threatening. Use it to start a conversation with your partner.

For more information on STI statistics, facts, stories, and other information please visit thestdproject.com